Sunday, October 02, 2011

On Re- And De-Animation

Coffee accomplished the last ten percent of the process for me and a nice bowl of Jamaican-jerk bacon, mushrooms and farm-fresh free-range eggs (with a little shredded carrot to add a figleaf of healthiness) is achieving critical mass.

Meanwhile, over at Tam's, there's a few folk uncomfortable with her being ambivalent about Uncle Sam pullin' a drone hit on a U. S. citizen. 'Strewth, he was talkin' serious smack, including the "Let's you and him go blow stuff up" variety, and doing so to an audience that has indicated a certain willingness to comply; but ain't The People got the right to talk? Yeah, he's a bad guy. Yeah, he preaches hatred and violence. So does Van Jones. So does Thomas Metzger. (And I won't give either one a link). So does a huge long list of jerks, nitwits, revolutionaries, lunatics, agent provocateurs and plain ordinary folk who've had a bad day and a drink too many. Can't blast 'em all, the Pentagon has a finite budget -- and, being falliable humans, working a list that long they're liable to blow up Arlo Guthrie, Ron Paul or your Great-Aunt Hattie by mistake.

Me, I've been concerned about siccing drones on anyone outside of war zone, and even not too happy with where and on what basis we've run a few of those wars or police actions or whatever they are to be called this week; I'm tempted to just start callin' them all "explosive euphemisms." (Could we at least return the old name of DoD if the Feds are a-gonna go act the aggressor? War Department is an honest name with a long history, lacking in Orwellian irony.)

It's certainly safer for our lads to just send in a drone (though on that basis, and given the difficulties of targeting, wouldn't it be safer still to neutron-bomb the evildoers?), I get that; but every successful splattering makes a martyr and makes our side look more of a coward and bully. Haul the bastid home, try him for treason, and stand him up against a wall! --Or send him off to serve life with Big Bubba; it's a win either way. Yeah, way harder to do; yeah, it risks the lives of more loyal Americans than usin' the remote and it hasn't got any video-game coolth, but if you wanna be the Good Guys, you don't get to take shortcuts -- and the white hats don't have a yellow stripe down the back.

(FWIW, treason is well defined in the Constitution -- but to convict requires a trial. And if you're thinking that "outmoded document" is imposing "unreasonable restrictions," why, have a seat over there next to Sarah Brady. You'll have much to talk about.)

11 comments:

Nathan said...

WRT "War Department": If you recall Piper's Lone Star Planet (AKA A Planet for Texans), you'll recall also that the Solar League in that odd little out-of-canon story had recently renamed its DoD to "Department of Aggression".

[excerpt starts]

"We have a Department of Aggression," I replied. "Its mottoes are, 'Stop trouble before it starts,' and, 'If we have to fight, let's do it on the other fellow's real estate.'"

[excerpt ends]

I have no problem with that. We probably ought to start by sending US troops across the Rio Grande and preemtively taking out both the Sinaloa and Zetas cartels.

But that would be a little 1846-ish for Comrade Zero, I suppose.

Joanna said...

I view it in terms of the social contract, as outlined by my very on-the-ball high school government teacher. If a citizen of a nation begins actively espousing the death of his fellow citizens, and providing advice and encouragement to those in pursuit of the same, that country is well within bounds to take him out by whatever means necessary.

I have wonder if the impersonal method of dispatch accounts for a large part of the sour taste in Tam's and your mouths -- had it been a hands-on assassination, or a sniper, do you think your reaction might have been a little different?

Roberta X said...

A) I never signed any "social contract," did you? --Or are we all born in slavery to the flag?

B) If he had been killed resisting arrest, I could make my peace with that, or if J. Private Citizen hunted him down 'cos of losin' a loved one to the self-imolating goatherders, there'd be ways to sort that out; but no, since all this (filthy, no good misbegotten) citizen did was speak and write freely, I would not be more comfy with fed.gov parking a sniper team down the road and erasing him when he stepped out to pick up the morning paper. Or even havin' SEALs ring the doorbell and cap 'im. Government ought not behave towards its citizens like the Cosa Nostra.

Chris M said...

He was not just talking, he was giving aid and comfort to declared enemies of his county and was killed while in the company of said enemies. That makes him, no, he made himself a legitimate military target. If taking him out would mean less chance of my son or another US service man or woman serving a third term overseas, I'd be happy to pull the trigger on the slimeball myself.

Wildman7316 said...

The Question running through my mind (VERY short laps) is, "was this person even STILL an American Citizen?" You go here:

http://travel.state.gov/law/citizenship/citizenship_778.html

And you find those Actions which can cost you your Citizenship. One in Particular jumps out; "Entering or serving in the armed forces of a foreign state engaged in hostilities against the U.S. or serving as a commissioned or non-commissioned officer in the armed forces of a foreign state (Sec. 349 (a) (3) INA)".

Last I checked, Al-Qaeda in not an organization that has The United States best interests at heart. As a former Enlisted, I LIKE the idea that you fight a war by taking out the highest ranking members of the Opposition possible. That's why the President has the Secret Service and the Top Commanders in the Field have Bodyguards to keep unfriendly strangers at arms length. Had Lord Ha-Ha or Tokyo Rose received a 500 lb General Demolition Greeting Card, I don't see that there would have been much of a difference than what happened with Anwar al-Awlaki.

If the problem is that some nameless Bureaucrat in the State Department failed to do the proper paperwork years ago, then several somebodies need to be fired for cause.

Jerry said...

When the death toll from the 'Remote Flying Things' starts to even up, I MIGHT start to consider it an even game. Any ideas as to numbers?

Wayne Conrad said...

The problem is not so much the idea that someone fighting for the bad guys ought to be a fair target. It's the idea that same arm of the goverment is both judge and jury. There's not even the slightest chance of checks and balances in that setup. "Trust us, he was a terrorist" is not to be enough reason for a U.S. citizen to be deprived of due process. Even if the government is telling the truth.

A power, any power (but don't forget that we're talking about execution, which is one Hell of a power) one delegates to government is a scattergun at best, with a rather poor ability to hit just the intended target. No power should ever be delegated to government without first imagining government turning that power on you or your loved ones.

Drang said...

Ignoring the controversy for the nonce, I believe that the War Department changed it's name to the Department of the Army, not Department of Defense...
Wikipedia says yes.
Not that changing the name of DoD to DoW wouldn't be more descriptive, but where would we bloggers be without our daily dose of pedanticism?

And, yes, Alwacky was going a bit further than just expressing disapproval of the US of A. OTOH, I'm not aware of any due process, by which an American citizen can be shorn of his or her citizenship, in absentia. OTGH, would one send US Marshals through Ranger School to arrest double tangos (traitorous terrorists), or deputize Rangers or SEALS? I'm guessing the latter...

Anonymous said...

The drone strikes provide a kind of western tech symmetry to Islamist terror attacks. I admit a guilty pleasure in being able to respond to terror tactics with terror tactics. But like the terror bombing of German non-combatants, it's hard to adequately resolve all of the ethical issues.

Roberta X said...

Anon: Amen.

Wildman: Al-Queda (and all it's icky little wannabee and analogs) is, however, not a State. It isn't even a government.

Worse yet, the schmuck in question had not done the very simple little dance to actually renounce his U. S. citizenship -- and was probably counting on that. (The State Dept. and courts have been very picky about actually touching all the bases).

So, class, question, do you totally, absolutely, 120% trust the Executive branch to always be spot-on when they pick out some citizen who has been talkin' some kind of smack -- say, telling people to get out there and break some windows so's Congress knows they're riled, or suggesting we suspend elections, or wanting to send the well-to-do or ne'er-do-well off to reeducation camps -- brand him an Enemy Of The State, and splatter him all over the neighbors by remote control?

Yeah, this time it looks like a 99.99999999% chance they took out a bad guy and that's being overly generous; the problem comes when the Feds take that shiny new power to see what else they can clean up.

mikee said...

Is it OK to target the Al Queda members who were accompanying Mr. Alwaki, and consider the US citizen to be collateral damage? I'd think so.

Is it OK to target a person who falls under the Authorization to Use Military Force, passed by bipartisan vote in the US Congress and signed by the US President? I'd think so.

Is it OK to target any illegal combatant waging a guerrilla war against the US? I'd think so.

Is it OK to hold a summary trial by military officers, convict and execute an illegal combatant captured on the battlefield? It has been throughout all of history, usually leaving the military trial part of it out.